Scribner's Magazine

Book Reviews by Eli Siegel 1931-1934

From Scribner's, June 1933

Eimi. By E.E. Cummings. Covici, Friede. $3.
Eva Gay. By Evelyn Scott. Smith, Haas. $2.50.

Mr. Cummings and Mrs. Scott, in these American books, both deal, directly and intensely, with the greatest subject there is in writing: Self and its behavior, in light and dark. Mr. Cummings's subject is Self and Russia or, Self versus Russia; and there is a lot of versus of all kinds in Eimi. He is both versus Russia of the Stalin Period and Prose of the Sam Johnson period. He hates regimented workers and regimented clauses. His diary in Russia (which is what Eimi mostly is) tells, mainly, of how Russia bored and displeased and irritated his immortal Left Bank soul; and tells this in a prose that is at times like the sudden, jagged breaking of a thousand matchsticks and at times like the sudden, helter-skelter scurrying of a thousand birds, all different. Most astonishing book, Eimi; yet, alas, possessing too often a chewing-gum dullness. However, when he throws the blankets off and gets himself fully untwisted, how resplendently grand he can be! Speaking carefully, I don't know in American letters from John Smith up, more wildly pleasing prose than in thirty paragraphs or so strewn through Eimi.

There are strangeness and more total success in Mrs. Scott's Eva Gay. It is about that lurid and mathematical war among selves that loving-sex consists of. Eva Gay is cut and maimed and she cuts and maims: all for reasons she knows hardly anything about. There is a fine abstract fury in Mrs. Scott's books. She dares, and knows how, to open unusual, frightening psychological doors. Mrs. Scott's comparatively well-behaved prose is not as good as the very high points of Eimi; but it lacks the hardworking dreariness so prevalent in Mr. Cummings's book. Mrs. Scott is a revolutionist in substance, in essential manner. And she has written a tingling, mind-changing book; while the good things of Eimi could just as well have been in any book; they are pearls in plaster.

Eli Siegel.


Reviews by Eli Siegel from Scribner's Magazines 1931-1934. Copyright 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934 Charles Scribner's Sons; copyrights renewed. Reprinted with the permission of Charles Scribner's Sons.

More Scribner's Reviews by Eli Siegel

arrowA Calendar of Sin by Evelyn Scott
arrowMark Twain's America by Bernard DeVoto
arrowTragic America by Theodore Dreiser
arrowThe Road Leads On by Knut Hamsun
arrowEva Gayby Evelyn Scott
arrowThe Life of Emerson by Van Wyck Brooks
arrowAdventures in Genius by Will Durant
arrowAnn Vickersby Sinclair Lewis
arrowBreathe Upon These Slain by Evelyn Scott
arrowThe Sheltered Life by Ellen Glasgow
arrowEimi by E.E. Cummings
arrowJohn Dryden by T.S. Eliot
arrowSelected Essays
: 1917-1932 by T.S. Eliot

arrowThe First Wife and Other Stories by Pearl S. Buck
arrowThe Sibyl of the North: The Tale of Christina, Queen of
     Sweden
by Faith Compton Mackenzie
arrowThe Soul of America by Arthur Hobson Quinn
arrowThree Cities: A Trilogy by Sholom Asch
arrowEdmund Kean by Harold Newcomb Hillebrand
arrowWilliam Carlos Williams: Collected Poems, 1921-1931
arrowA Cultural History of the Modern Age by Egon Friedell, Vol. II
arrowThe Proud and the Meek(Men of Good Will, Part II)
     by Jules Romains
arrowThe Proud and the Meek(Men of Good Will, vol. III)
     by Jules Romains

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